GONZALES — The Ascension Parish School Board voted Tuesday to buy approximately 11 acres for $1.5 million on La. 73 for the site of a future primary school in the Dutchtown area.
The school, which would require funding through a new bond issue to be presented to voters, would relieve overcrowding at Dutchtown Primary and Spanish Lake Primary, said Chad Lynch, planning and construction director for the School Board.
The board’s option to purchase four contiguous tracts from several members of the May family was set to expire on Nov. 4.
For a while at Tuesday night’s meeting, the purchase was in question after outgoing School Board member A.J. Nickens made a substitute motion, seconded by board Vice President Lorraine Wimberly, to postpone the issue until new School Board members are seated after the Nov. 4 election.
“There will be five new members, possibly seven,” Nickens said.
Nickens said the School Board currently owns several other pieces of property for future schools.
“This road is so congested now, you can hardly get down it,” said Nickens, who also said he thought the price for the property was high.
Wimberly added that the frontage of the property was small, at approximately 370 feet.
School Board member John Murphy disagreed with the substitute motion.
“For over four years, we’ve been trying to purchase property in the Dutchtown area, because it is the growth area of our parish,” Murphy said. “It’s exactly what the community needs. … We have a strategic plan this board put into place. I say it’s time to vote.”
Lynch said other pieces of property the School Board currently owns are outside of the Dutchtown area and are being looked at to relieve school crowding in other areas of the district.
“We’re busting at the seams. They’re not growing land anymore. They’ve looked pretty much everywhere they can,” School Board President Troy Gautreau said of Lynch and his staff.
In recent years, the student population in the Ascension Parish school district has grown by approximately 500 students each school year.
Nickens’ substitute motion failed 2-7. The board then voted 7-2 to approve a subsequent motion to buy the property.